As a result of the retirement of Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), there have been adjustments in committee membership and leadership. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) is the new Chairman. Newly-appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) will serve the remainder of Sen. Cochran’s term as a member of the full Committee and the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.
On April 12, the House failed to get the two-thirds vote needed to pass legislation (H.J. Res. 2) proposing a constitutional balanced budget amendment (BBA). The vote was 233-184. Despite not passing in the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly wants to take up a balanced budget amendment in the Senate. See The Arc’s blog post on the Congressional BBA legislation here.
There is also concern about BBA efforts at the state level. Twenty-eight states have active BBA resolutions, only 6 short of the 34 needed to call a Constitutional Convention to pass a BBA. Supporters of a Constitutional Convention to pass a BBA plan to target Maine, Virginia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington state.
On March 22, the House passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill that covers the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 that ends on September 30. The following day it was passed by the Senate and signed by the President. A number of disability-related programs saw significant increases, including the Developmental Disabilities Act’s Projects of National Significance (20%), the Lifespan Respite Care Act program (22%), the National Family Caregiver Support Program (20%), and State Grants to Remove Barriers to Voting (40%). Housing programs saw the largest gains with $402 million in new Section 811 mainstream vouchers in addition to $107 million for renewals, and $82.6 million for new Section 811 Project Rental Assistance. Most programs, however, saw modest increases, ranging from 2% to 5%, or level funding. Only one program was cut – the Supported Employment State Grant program sustained a cut of 18%.
Additionally, the bill included two policy provisions that The Arc supports. The first is Kevin and Avonte’s Law (S. 2070), which includes grants to law enforcement agencies and other entities for education, training, and technology to help prevent and reduce the harm from wandering by children with Autism and other developmental disabilities. The second is a requirement that the Government Accountability Office conduct a study on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools to improve reporting and the use of alternatives to these practices.
For a list of The Arc’s funding priorities and amounts appropriated, click here. The Arc is continuing to review the full bill.
With only four days left until the current continuing resolution expires at midnight on March 23, Congress is working to finalize the spending package to cover the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018 to avoid a partial government shutdown. House Republican leaders are expected to present the details of the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill to their members in a closed-door meeting this evening. The full text of the bill will likely be released afterward. It’s not yet clear when the measure will be voted on. At issue have been several controversial policy riders and how to allocate the additional funding provided by the budget deal enacted last month.
The Trump Administration released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Budget Request on Feb. 12. This document outlines the Administration’s spending and revenue priorities for the next decade. Among the many proposed cuts of concern to the disability community are:
- Medicaid would be drastically cut through per capita caps and block grants. In addition, the President’s Budget assumes repeal of critical provisions such as the requirements for adequate benefits and affordable health plans that protect people with pre-existing conditions.
- Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) would be cut by roughly $70 billion.
- Developmental Disabilities (DD) Act Programs would see double digit cuts – State Councils on Developmental Disabilities (-23%), University Centers for Excellence in Disabilities (-13%), and Projects of National Significance (-90%).
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) would lose $213 billion, a reduction of 30%.
- Housing programs would lose $6.8 billion, including major cuts in housing choice vouchers, public housing, and other vital programs for people with disabilities.
Though the President’s Budget Request does not have the force of law, it can set the stage for the Congressional budgets which follow. The Senate has indicated that it will not consider a FY 2019 budget due to the recent budget deal to raise spending caps for defense and non-defense discretionary programs, however it is unclear if the House intends to do so. Click here to see proposed spending levels for discretionary programs in the President’s FY 2019 Budget Request. Click here to read The Arc’s statement.
On February 9, the House and Senate passed a 6-week spending bill that ended an hours-long government shutdown and President Trump Signed it shortly afterward. This continuing resolution (CR) that runs through March 23 was paired with a two-year budget deal that will raise spending caps on defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) program categories for 2018 and 2019 by $290 billion. In addition, the budget deal specifically provides:
- an additional four-year extension of the funding for the Children’s Health Insurance program
- a permanent fix for the Medicare therapy caps exceptions process
- a two-year extension of the Family to Family Health Information Centers
- a repeal of the Medicare panel created in the Affordable Care Act to implement Medicare cuts
- a two-year extension of funding for Community Health Centers
- a five-year extension funding for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program
- $6 billion for opioid and mental health treatment services, prevention programs, and law enforcement efforts
- $4 billion for college affordability, including programs that help police officers, teachers, and firefighters
- $5.8 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant
- $20 billion for infrastructure (including funding for safe drinking water)
- a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health
- $4 billion for hospitals and clinics for veterans, and
- $182 million for the Census Bureau for 2020 Census preparations.
The budget deal also includes a number of other important provisions, including suspending the debt ceiling through March 1 of 2019, providing for disaster relief funding, extending expiring tax cuts, and providing a new prevention focus for child welfare services. It is estimated that only $100 billion of the $419 billion spending increases will be paid for with offsetting cuts. This raises concerns that the resulting increased deficits will create more pressure to cut mandatory programs (including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid), particularly if Congress decides to extend the sequestration relief for discretionary programs and other provisions after 2019.
With the budget totals set, Congress now has until March 23 to come to agreement on item-by-item spending details, through an “omnibus” spending package that would combine the 12 appropriations bills covering all government agencies for the remainder of FY 2018.
The Trump Administration just released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Budget Request. This document serves to outline the Administration’s spending and revenue priorities for the next decade. Advocates are concerned that it will be similar to the President’s FY 2018 Budget, which called for historic cuts to both mandatory and discretionary programs that are critical for people with disabilities (see disability coalition statement on the 2018 Budget for reference). Though the President’s Budget is non-binding, it can set the stage for the Congressional Budgets which follow. The Arc will provide a summary of the President’s Budget in next week’s issue of the Capitol Insider.
The short-term funding bill enacted last month that ended the three-day partial government shutdown expires on Thursday, February 8. Little is known about any progress in meeting the terms of the agreement reached between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that ended the shutdown and extended funding through February 8. It is expected that the House will vote shortly on a measure to keep the government funded through March 22, in hopes of giving lawmakers more time to move forward with an immigration bill to protect recipients of the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. A Senate vote would have to follow to reach the President’s desk before the funding deadline on Feb. 8.
The Senate voted late today to reopen the government, ending a three-day standoff that left hundreds of thousands of federal workers furloughed. The measure will keep the government funded through February 8. An agreement was reached after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised to allow an immigration bill to reach the floor next month. This deal falls short of the Democrats’ initial demand on the basics of a deal to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and protect “Dreamers” facing deportation. Fortunately, the bill also includes a six-year funding extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). As many as 20 states would have run out of CHIP money by February 1 if Congress failed to reach a deal. The bill must now be approved by the House of Representatives and signed by the President before becoming law.
Congress has until Friday, January 19 to reach an agreement on funding most of the federal government. There are four key issues that Congress is grappling with in its negotiations on a spending bill – protections for persons covered by the Deferred Action for Early Arrivals (DACA) program, extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), increases for the caps for defense and non-defense discretionary programs established by the Budget Control Act of 2011, and additional disaster relief funding. If agreement is not reached Congress may pass another temporary extension of funding or face a shutdown of the federal government.